Winston-Salem, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Chris Jones scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half, enabling fifth-ranked Louisville to survive its first challenge in the ACC by rallying for an 85-76 victory over Wake Forest.
Jones added a career-high 10 assists and keyed an 12-2 run that turned a one- point deficit with under five minutes to play into an 80-71 Cardinals' lead in Louisville's debut in its new conference.
Montrezl Harrell also came up big for Louisville (13-1, 1-0 ACC), amassing 25 points and 13 rebounds. Terry Rozier chipped in 18 points for the Cardinals before fouling out late.
"Chris Jones was brilliant. Montrezl was great in the first half," said Louisville head coach Rick Pitino. "Terry, Chris and Montrezl played a great game, and that trifecta led us to victory."
First-year head coach Danny Manning's Demon Deacons nearly pulled off the stunning upset, getting a career-best 31 points from Devin Thomas and overcoming a 13-point first-half deficit to briefly move in front.
"It's refreshing to know we can go toe-to-toe with any team," said Wake Forest guard Codi Miller-McIntyre. "We just have to get better."
Thomas also had 11 rebounds while shooting 11-of-14 from the field for Wake Forest (8-7, 0-2), which entered Sunday's matchup on a season-high three-game win streak. Miller-McIntyre and Mitchell Wilbekin tallied 14 points each in the loss.
Louisville appeared en route to an easy win after building a 46-35 halftime lead on the strength of 20 points from Harrell, but the Demon Deacons embarked on a 10-0 run out of the break to quickly pull within one. Miller-McIntyre's layup off a Cardinals' turnover with 12:55 to play sent Wake Forest ahead for the first time since the game's early stages, with the bucket giving the Deacons a 55-54 edge.
The Cardinals countered with a 6-0 push to temporarily take back control, though four straight points from Thomas later on made it a one-point game again at 64-63.
Wilbekin buried a 3-pointer with 6:12 remaining and Dinos Mitoglou scored in transition on Wake's next possession, putting Louisville down by a 69-68 count entering the stretch run.
Jones then took over, canning a go-ahead jumper with 4:52 left and hitting two free throws on Louisville's next trip to ignite the pivotal flurry. He later fed Harrell for an alley-oop layup and knocked down a contested shot with 1:09 remaining that all but put Wake Forest away, as the Cardinals held a 78-71 lead entering the final minute.
Louisville created some distance during the first half by going on a 19-4 tear in which Harrell deposited 12 points, with the surge staking the Cardinals to a 29-16 lead just over 11 minutes in.
"My teammates kept finding me and I kept playing aggressive," Harrell said. "I tried to make sure I capitalized every time my teammates found me."
A 10-4 run near the end of the period had Louisville back up by 13 before Wake's Cornelius Hudson hit a layup to cut the margin to 46-35 at the break.
Wake Forest shot 52.8 percent from the field but hit just 3-of-15 attempts from 3-point range ... Louisville went 7-of-17 from beyond the arc ... The schools were meeting for the first time since the Midwest Region semifinal of the 1996 NCAA Tournament, a 60-59 Demon Deacons' victory in Minneapolis ... Thomas' previous career high was 25 points, set in Wake Forest's season opener against UNC Asheville ... The Cardinals will host their first ACC home game this Wednesday against Clemson.